How to Treat Ankle Injuries After Falling on Ice


It's hard to not slip on ice. Every time winter rolls around, people slip on ice and end up with some kind of injury. In fact, unintentional falling is the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in nearly every age group.

It only gets worse when ice is thrown into the mix. So how do you avoid winding up with one of these types of injuries?

Prevention is your best bet. If you can do things to lower the chance of falling on ice, you should absolutely do them. However, sometimes even these things don't work, and falling on ice is one of the leading causes of ankle injuries.


Ice Slipping Prevention

The best way to deal with an ankle injury is to not get injured at all. This isn't always possible, but there are certainly some things you can do to lower your chances of falling on ice.

Whenever you need to walk on ice, make sure you do these things:

  • Wear the correct footwear
  • Walk slowly
  • Take small steps
  • Sprinkle sand or deicer on the ice before you walk (if you can)
  • Move slowly when completing outdoor chores around ice
  • Always carry a phone with you so you can call for help if you fall and hurt yourself

You may not be able to do all these things every time you come in contact with ice, but you can certainly walk slower and take small steps. If you try to rush over ice, you're more likely to slip and hurt yourself.


What Should You Do After Getting an Ankle Injury?

Even the best prevention sometimes doesn't work. If you have fallen on ice and sustained an ankle injury, you should address the problem right away.

You need to go to the emergency room as soon as possible. If there's someone with you, they can drive you to the nearest hospital. But if you are on your own and need help, you should call 911. Serious ankle injuries require immediate attention. Putting it off will only make the injury worse.

If You Have a Minor Injury

If your injury is pretty minor, you may not need to call 911. But you should still get medical attention as soon as you can. In this case, you may be able to wait a few hours for someone to drive you to a hospital or to get off work and go there yourself.

You should never put off getting medical attention for any longer than that. Just because the injury may not seem bad doesn't mean you can ignore it. Not receiving the proper treatment can cause your injury to get worse, not heal the way it should, or continue to get injured in the future.

But I Can Still Walk, So It's No Big Deal

Wrong!

Sometimes people think if they can walk on their ankle, it doesn't need any medical attention. But this couldn't be further from the truth. The ability to walk or put weight on your injured ankle doesn't mean you haven't sprained or even fractured it.

Similarly, if you think you're just sprained your ankle so don't need to get your ankle checked out, you're still wrong. The symptoms of a sprained ankle and a fractured ankle are very similar, so the symptoms of a sprained ankle can actually hide the signs of a fracture.

You should always get medical help, even if you think your ankle sprain isn't bad or that you don't have a fracture.


What Should I Do After Getting Medical Help?

After you've gone to the hospital or visited your doctor, you need to take care of your ankle injuries properly at home. If you don't, you'll just make the injury worse, and it will take longer to heal.

The doctor will probably give you some kind of instructions, but as a general rule of thumb, you want to follow the R.I.C.E principle.

R.I.C.E stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Rest your Injured Ankle

You have to stay off that ankle for a while. The exact amount of time will depend on how serious the injury is. This means no walking. If you need a way to get around, use crutches.

If all you have is a minor sprain, you may be able to put some weight on the injury and walk with an ankle brace. If you have anything more serious, you should avoid putting any weight on your ankle at all. If you have a fracture as well as a sprain, you definitely shouldn't put any weight on that leg.

Ice

This will keep the swelling down. Place a thin cloth or a towel between the ice and your injury to avoid putting the ice directly on the skin. You also shouldn't ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Compression

This also helps control the swelling. But the bigger part of compression is keeping your injury secure and stable. This will ensure your injury can't move in a way that might make the damages worse.

Elevation

By keeping your foot propped up, you slow the blood flow to your ankle injury. This will decrease any pain and keep the swelling from getting worse. The best way to elevate your injury is to keep it at or above the level of your heart.

Laying on a couch with your sprained ankle propped up with pillows will do you more good than sitting on a chair with your ankle raised on the footrest.


Take Care of Your Ankle Injuries

Don't ignore your ankle injuries. This won't make them go away any faster. In fact, it will just make the healing process slower.

Even if you don't think you need it, get medical attention right away. They will give your injury the treatment it needs so you can recover as quickly as possible. When you're at home, do your part and make sure you rest your ankle, ice the injury, compress it, and keep it elevated.

Not sure where to find the right medical treatment? Contact us if you are in New York and we'll get you the help you need.